Last week Stats NZ released a new bunch of results from the census, after the first release late last year. This release included one of the bits I’ve been most interested in seeing, the Travel to Work data, despite the issues with both the change in question and the census in general.
Before getting into the post, let’s just look at the issues with it first. There’s a lot more detail about it here but at a high level:
The issue with the change in question is that it changed from being about the main mode you used to travel to work on the day of the census, to how you usually travel to work. This will have changed how some people may have responded thereby breaking the ability to more directly compare the outcome to previous censuses. They do however say that to compare with previous censuses to use the proportions (percentages) of those that worked that day rather than actual counts. In addition to the change in question, they also dropped the motorcycle category but added a ferry category.
I also have an issue with the question in general in that it only asked for the mode you used the most which doesn’t really suit us well in a more multi-modal future. For example, my normal commute contains both a bus and a train journey but only one of these gets recorded.
Then of course there’s the wider issue of the poor census returns in general. They say about 81% of the data comes from census responses with the remaining 19% coming from statistical imputation. Overall they rate the data quality as moderate while the external data quality panel rates it as poor.
Onto the results.
Starting at a national level, I’d previously found results dating back to 1981 giving a useful history for each category so I’ve added to that using the calculation I mentioned recommended above. Of note:
- Driving to work reduced slightly from 69.2% to 69% between 2013 and 2018. This follows the same scale decrease from 2006 to 2013.
- There’s also be a continued decrease of people as passengers in non public transport vehicles down to 4%
- Buses and trains have both seen increases of 0.5 and 0.6% respectively. I haven’t delved deeply into the data but based on other data, I suspect much of this change is being driven by the growth of PT in Auckland
- Working from home has also increased quite a bit, growing from 9.9% to 11.9%.
- Both walking and cycling have decreased at a national level but again I suspect this will be a different story in some specific scenarios.
Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch
For regions I’ve decided to only look at Auckland and Wellington as they’re really our only two systems with strong multi-modal use. I’ve also included the Christchurch City Council results. The data for this doesn’t go back as far as it does nationally.
Auckland has broadly followed the national trends.
- Private vehicle use in Auckland is slightly above that nationally but it has some down more, dropping from 72% to 70% in 2018.
- We’ve seen strong growth in public transport over the last decade and that’s being reflected in the numbers. Buses have increased share by 1.1% to 7.1% while trains have gone from 1.7% to 3%. That means a combined bus and train increase of 2.4% which is very positive. Combined with ferries, PT is sitting at 10.7% share of journeys to work.
- Working from home has also gone up but only by 0.9% so not as much as it has nationally.
- Like Nationally, the overall share of walking and cycling has decreased but only just and it looks to be a reflection of other modes growing more strongly.
Wellington too has seen the same trends as seen nationally and in Auckland but generally started in a better place.
- Vehicle use has again declined, now down to 54%
- Bus use has increased and although the census was from prior to Wellington’s new network, other data suggests it is improving.
- Train use is usually just a little bit behind buses in Wellington which is the same this time but the gap has closed
- Combined, PT use in Wellington is sitting at 18%
- Walking and cycling took a bigger hit than they did in Auckland but are still tracking higher.
- Working from home jumped by just under 2% which is close to the national trend.
Perhaps understandably, Christchurch takes a different trend. Most notably in car use being higher and public transport use smaller, but so too is cycling share with it at 5.6%
Finally I’ve put the 2018 data for these main centres together for comparison
From the data I’ve also whipped up a couple of quick maps. I’ll write a separate post with a deeper look at these as there are some interesting things to see, especially over time.
This shows modeshare of public transport for travel to work. The Central isthmus has long been one of the strongest areas of public transport use but that is now being joined by the lower North Shore and also the areas alongside the western line – the western line doesn’t really show up like this in previous years..
Unsurprisingly the areas that have poor PT usage include the East, which is one of the reasons behind the Eastern Busway, the South – even around the rail line, and the Northwest.
Like above there’s some interesting results showing through. In this case the Inner West and central isthmus is showing up particularly strongly, as does the area around Devonport and the east towards St Heliers. I imagine with Skypath Northcote will start to look much like these areas.
As mentioned I’ll look at these in more detail in a separate post.